“Music is therapy.” Dorothy Morris attests to that, and she should know. The Fresno native has been singing professionally and thrilling audiences for years under the stage name “Lady Coco”. She counts as early influences her parents, who were both musically inclined, as well as such disparate luminaries as Sarah Vaughan, Anita Baker and Teena Marie. But the therapeutic nature of her singing extends beyond the audiences of her sold-out shows in Los Angeles and into her own living room.
Lady Coco and husband Michael, sporting purple to support Alzheimer’s awareness.
Dorothy and Michael Morris were married in 1974. After having successful careers and raising three children, these were supposed to be the golden years; a slower pace filled with travel and relaxed time with grandchildren. But life doesn’t follow a straight line when dementia enters the mix, and the Morris family has been hit harder than most.
In 2002, Dorothy’s mother, Sweetie Brooks, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Within months, she could no longer recognize any of her five children. “You lose the person long before you lose the person,” says Dorothy. Then in 2011, it was Michael’s family — first his father, Earl, and shortly thereafter his mother, Gladys. Through it all, Lady Coco has learned that singing is the best medicine she can offer them. “Whenever my father-in-law would get agitated, I would just start singing Billie Holiday’s God Bless the Child. And he would visibly relax.”
Lady Coco and Gladys
“You can get hung up on a lot of things trying to get them to come around to your way of thinking,” says Dorothy. “But it’s their reality and you have to go where they are, deal with what is causing their upset.” She adds, “Just love them. That never needs to change, no matter what’s going on.”
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